If you learned about railroads in history class, or, alternately, if you watched Cullen Bohannon’s steamy glare throughout Hell on Wheels, then you may remember the Golden Spike and Promontory Summit. Of course, being the history geek that I am, I had to check it out (though I remember it being named Promontory Point in school?). Sadly, Cullen was not there. Also, neither was the infamous golden spike! VEXATIONS! Alas, of the four (I learned that day) fancy spikes, three are in other museums and one is… MISSING! I bet Cullen has it. Boo. Still, the museum well-documented the race to bisect America, even including some of the uglier points, such as decimation of the buffalo and Native Americans, and the laborers’ travails. They have two historically accurate steam engines that run along a length of track, and the rangers give a great talk about the final days leading up to the penultimate ceremony.
We weren’t sure where we were going to sleep that night, so while I was in the museum getting my history on, Stephen discovered we were close to a famous earthwork sculpture called The Spiral Jetty that allows overnight parking. With a sublime sunset over the Great Salt Lake and stars for miles, it was an amazingly peaceful camp spot. Notably, while we were artistically ignorant, most other visitors were familiar with this seminal piece by Robert Stimson, coming to visit from as far away as Europe. We felt lucky, once again, to stumble unexpectedly on an American treasure.